Tales from the Terrace #2: The Obi One For Me


A look at the week gone by, featuring John Obi Mikel's goal scoring antics

A look at the week gone by, featuring John Obi Mikel’s goal scoring antics

Just like Chelsea’s winning ways, Tales of the Terrace is back. And A LOT has happened since last week, so lets have a quick round up of what went on:

– Mourinho wants to convert Juan Mata to a RM, with Oscar his preferred number 10.
– Chelsea beat Fulham 2:0 – Oscar and John Obi Goal Machine with the goals
– Chelsea beat Swindon 2:0 with goals from Torres and Ramires.

Other stuff happened as well – such as Marco van Ginkel suffering what looked like a horrible injury and I wish him a speedy recovery – but those bullet points are what I shall try and cover this week.

Firstly, Juan Mata as a RW, could it work? Yes, it certainly could. Whilst I think it is clear Mata’s best position is as a number 10, he certainly has the talent to occupy a wider position. He’s perhaps not quite as jet-heeled as Schürrle or Willian, but his final pass, and eye for a pass is certainly superior. A winger in his days at Valencia, and at the start of his Chelsea career, to say Juan Mata can’t play there is just plain wrong. Whether he can play this work-rate role Jose is asking him to is another matter (pun restraint, you’re welcome).

Defensive work is required to be a “Mourinho type of player” – a phrase I have already taken the micky out of on this site. Inter Milan, Chelsea 2004-07, Porto, Real Madrid, wherever Jose went, he made sure his players worked hard for the team. Even Robben tried. Mata played an absurdly high number of games last year, so stamina isn’t really an issue. My concern over Juan as a winger is whether all or not his defensive work will hinder him in the final third. If he’s knackered from chasing full backs all game, will he be as effective when he picks up the ball on the attack? Let’s wait and see. For now though, I agree with Mourinho, Oscar has been our best player this season and thoroughly deserves his place, it’s up to Mata to adapt and to play alongside him. He can do it, just be patient.

We also beat Swindon 2-0 this week. Torres proved he could do it on a cold Tuesday night in Swindon, Willian couldn’t finish a sandwich, De Bruyne went chasing shadows, Essien proved he’s better than League 1 calibre and Bertrand looked solid. Plenty of positives could be found, such as the performances of Torres, Essien, Bertrand, Azpi and Mata, but also negatives can be found. Torres missed 3 1v1s, injuries etc but we won, so in the words of the great Andre Schürrle: “#behappy”.

Injuries in centre midfield though put a bit of a shadow over the game. Ramires now a doubt for the weekend and Marco van Ginkel looking like he could potentially not even be fit for the World Cup. Good job we have a new goal machine amongst our ranks who can fill the void left by these two. His name is John Obi Mikel.

I have written about Mikel before, and I was full of praise. I even called him our best centre midfielder in a wild flurry of optimism. His goal this weekend brought joy to everyone connected with Chelsea this weekend, I haven’t stopped celebrating it, and I think it’s time he received more plaudits. Against Everton this season, he was one of the few positives from the game, against Fulham he scored (!!!!) and again looked solid, and in the Confederations Cup he scoop-turned a defender.

When he plays, the other midfielder alongside him is given a more attacking licence because Mikel will always be back in case a counter attack occurs. Only he and Essien ever really do this, Lampard certainly doesn’t and Ramires can do but doesn’t always. When Mikel plays, the team are more defensively stable than a midfield duo of Lampard and Ramires. For me, the combination of Ramires and Mikel is our best given our current options. Mikel with defensive cover, strength and reading of the game whilst Ramires shuttles up and down, chasing the ball, winning the ball and starting counter attacks.

You may have guessed by know that I am a Mikel fan – maybe my title gave it away? Here are some reasons why:

1. He rejected Man United to sign for Chelsea.
2. He was fantastic in our double winning season with Carlo.
3. Best defensive midfielder we possess.
4. He is the only Chelsea player who ever seems to be honest in interviews.
eg: “I think with the calibre of players we have here we shouldn’t be afraid of anyone. But if we play the way we did today we have a chance of losing to anyone we play. We go back to training and look at the things we have done wrong and try to put it right.” – Mikel after the Basel game.
5. His goal scoring record is amusing.

Here is two fantastic John Obi Mikel goals. If you don’t love him after watching these, you have no soul.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wn9KZjdqiyg and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRdxL00OzZY

I will return next week with more opinionated stuff based on whatever happens between now and next Wednesday, I hope you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read, come on you Blues!


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